Best Day Hikes in the Cordillera Blanca

Best Day Hikes from The Lazy Dog Inn

Some of the best day hikes located in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range are found on the Southern side of the mountain range, next to The Lazy Dog Inn Mountain Lodge. The Southern side of the Cordillera Blanca is not as well-known as the Northern Side, but rivals it in beauty. Click Here to orientate yourself to the area. From the front doors of The Lazy Dog Inn you have direct access to local indigenous communities, ruins, glaciers, and glacier-fed lakes that rival anything you will see in the Northern side of the Cordillera.

Huascaran National Park Hikes

Below we’ve provided a list of hikes you can access directly from The Lazy Dog Inn and some local hikes that require vehicle support. If not staying at The Lazy Dog Inn there is additional driving time, but the trailheads are much closer to Huaraz than the Northern Cordillera. Many of the valleys have gates at the entrance which are controlled by communities to prevent animal theft. Please keep these gates closed.

Entry fees to Huascaran National Park have recently increased and cost 30 soles per day for visitors and 15 soles per day for nationals. You will want to have small bills on hand to pay the fee.

Llaca-Valley-The-Lazy-Dog-Inn
View from the Cojup Valley

 

 

  • Laguna Aguak(c)

A great day hike right outside of Huaraz or down the road from The Lazy Dog Inn. Starting from the pre-Incan burial tombs of Wilcahuain, Laguna Aguak ( c ) is a high-altitude lake of 4500 meters. The lake is located around 7 km uphill and is known for its turquoise color and panoramic views of the Cordillera Negra. The lake sits in a bowl nestled under what is locally called “el Nariz de San Cristabol” or the nose of Saint Cristabol.

Trail Description

The first km is a series of steps and pastures encircling a large cross planted on a hill. The trail then continues uphill to the left and is marked by white painted rocks with meter markings. The trail markings are slightly inaccurate, when markings indicate you have arrived, you will need to hike an additional KM to access the lake. Historically local people would hike to the lake and then continue to the right, up to Vallunaraju base camp to cut out large ice blocks for ice cones in Huaraz.

Arrival from The Lazy Dog Inn

From The Lazy Dog Inn the trail head is 6km on the country road to the Wilcahuain ruins. The Wilcahuain ruin has two main ruin sites and the trailhead is on the right side (coming from The Lazy Dog Inn) located closest to the ruin on the Paria side (where you buy your entrance tickets to the site). As of today, there is a large brown sign that says Laguna Aguac (note that spelling will vary as Quechua is a phoenetic language) and is a well-maintained, double-track sized trail laid with flat rocks.

Arrival from Huaraz

From Huaraz head North to Centennario street. After the bridge, the first stoplight has a sign that says “Wilcahuain”, turn right  followed by the immediate left. There are signs that indicate the direction to Wilcahuain. Continue following the main dirt road, taking caution to not stray into a random dirt road. Upon reaching the first ruin site of Wilcahuain on your left, continue a few meters up looking for the large brown sign that says “Laguna Aguac”, this marks the start of the trailhead.

 

  • Quebrada Llaca

One of the best day hikes in the  Cordillera Blanca and one of our favorite treks from The Lazy Dog Inn. The hike starts directly out the front gates, with access to single trek on a nearby country road. Ascending into the national park you will have impressive views of huge glaciers and rewarded with a crystalline lake. The hike is and out and back and offers  an up-close-and-personal glacier experience with Oshcapalca and Ranrapalca glaciers. Returning to The Lazy Dog Inn you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the Cordillera Negra.

Llaca Trail Description

Follow the single track on the ridgeline until it dead ends onto a dirt road, you will have to go right or left. Turn left and you will enter a steep granite valley which is the entrance of the National Park, where you will pay your entry fee. Continue following the road until you arrive to a wooden sign that lists the names of the surrounding peaks and their elevations. The sign marks the start of a steep single track. Follow the single track until it dead ends on to the dirt road above.

Upon arriving to the dirt road turn left and follow the road to a humble concrete bridge. Cross the bridge and ascend the picturesque valley via a faded single track with the river on your right side. Look out for condors and vizcachas. Continue following the single track until it noticeably arcs up to the road. Hike up the road and follow it until arriving to the refugio. From the refugio to the lake it’s an 8-minute incline through a single track carved out of scree that ascends to the right. From the slated glaciated colored lake, you can walk the shoreline to get right next to Llaca glacier (weather permitting.)

Round-trip distance from The Lazy Dog Inn 15 km’s and an elevation gain of 850 meters, 550 meters is climbed the first half of the hike. The lake sits at about 4,500 meters, with panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and valley below. Allow 6-8 hours to complete the hike from the front gates of The Lazy Dog Inn. You can also ascend to the refugio with vehicle support as there is a bumpy road that takes a little over and hour to drive one way from the Lazy Dog Inn.

Note: If you require more of a challenge, you can add a hiking loop to the Vallunaraju Base Camp at 5000 meters, where you can gain an additional 500 meters in elevation. This add-on offers two high glacier lakes and sweeping views of Ocshapalca, Ranrapalca, and Vallunaraju glaciers. There are technical parts, steep up and downhills and route-finding skills are needed. Allow 10-12 hours. Not recommended in the rainy season.

Llaca-Lake-Mountain-Lodge
Llaca Lake and part of the surrounding glaciers

Arrival from The Lazy Dog Inn

From the Inn’s front gates walk up the driveway and turn right upon reaching the road with a water tank on the opposite side. Hike up the road until it meets another country dirt road, where you will see a “Lazy Dog Inn” sign and a white post marked KM 12. Near the white post the single track starts and climbs the ridgeline. You will have the Cordillera Negra at your back and the looming glacier of Ranrapalca staring at you as you ascend.

Arrival from Huaraz

From Huaraz you can take the #15 “combi” or shared bus to the town of Cachipampa Alta. If you choose to take the Combi this will add an additional 30 minutes to your hike, as the Combi stops 30 minutes below where the trail starts. By private vehicle don’t use GPS as it will take you on the worst roads in the area. The best route is to drive to El Pinar, through the town of Marian up thru Cachipampa Alta, passing a water tank on the left and arriving to another dirt road, paralleling the road you are coming from. This second dirt road has “The Lazy Dog Inn” signs, right next to a white post that is labeled KM 12. From here you can access the single track to the National Park gates or continue ascending with a vehicle, by road. If you want to continue by vehicle, upon reaching the country dirt road with “The Lazy Dog Inn” sign turn right, and drive for approximately 3 km’s arriving to a split in the road that is labelled “Llaca” and “Cojup”. Take the left turn to Llaca and continue ascending until you decide to get out and walk.

 

  • Quebrada Cojup

One of the best day hikes in the  Cordillera Blanca for dramatic scenery and points of interest, Cojup and its affiliated high glacier lake Palcacocha have recently made international news due to the science community whom have installed research stations to monitor the affects of Climate Change. Beyond data for scientists the trek offers a great hike for people whom want a long and gentle hike.

Cojup Valley-The-Lazy-Dog-Inn
Pucarana Glacier as seen from Cojup Valley

Cojup Trail Description

The trailhead is located 5 km’s or a 10-minute drive from the front gates of The Lazy Dog Inn. This is an out and back hike, with the highlight being the crystal-blue glacier fed lake of Palcacocha. It’s approximately 13 kilometers each way from the start of the trail to the lake, making it a 26-kilometer hike from the trailhead and a 36-kilometer hike from the front gates of The Lazy Dog Inn. For this reason, many guests opt for a taxi transport so they can maximize their time exploring the national park.

Around 2 hours into the hike, you will arrive to a lookout with jagged peaks of Mount Ranrapalca and two stark glaciers Pucaranra and Palcaraju. From this point another 2 to 2.5 hours will bring you to the high glacier lake Palcacocha which sits under the glaciers. The last km to the lakes is uphill while most of the hike is longer and a lesser incline. The lake is located at 4,567 meters, with a 837 meter elevation gain from the lodge. Allow 7-9 hours hiking in and out from the trailhead, out and back. The trail is well marked and clear.

Arrival from The Lazy Dog Inn

If you love long hikes you can walk the 5km’s from the lodge to the trailhead by a desolate (and beautiful) country road. Upon exiting the front gates follow a double track animal trail to the right until your arrive on a main country road that sits just above the lodge. Follow the dirt road to the right and continue walking until the road splits, take the fork to the right that says “Cojup”, and continue on. You will cross a stream, then reach a wooden gate, and hut (chappa) on your left that marks the beginning of the trail head. The double track road and large gate were recently installed for the scientific community to access the data collected at Lake Palcacocha. As the hike is already long, we typically recommend taking a 15-minute private vehicle ride to the trailhead so you can reach Lake Palcacocha and return to the lodge in a day.

Arrival from Huaraz

The closest access point from Huaraz is driving to El Pinar, thru the town of Marian, past Cachipampa Alta. You will eventually come to another dirt road with a “Lazy Dog Inn” sign and a white post that is marked KM 12. At this intersection take a right and follow the dirt road until it forks to the right and is marked “Cojup”. Continue following the road, crossing a river you will find the trailhead head 30 meters ahead on the left marked by a wooden gate and small hut (chappa).

 

  • Laguna Churup

One of the best day hikes in  the Cordillera Blancas if you want to mix your hike with some simple aid climbing up boulders and panoramic views of the Cordillera Negra. We recommend starting this trek no later than 8:30am to avoid the busses of hikers that come up from Huaraz. This becomes even more important during the rainy season, as the two sections where you climb up boulders can make these sections dangerously slippery.

Churup is one the most popular day hikes in the Cordillera Blancas due to its deep-blue lake nestled in a crater surrounded by jagged peaks. The trailhead starts next to the farming communityof Pitec and the trek is 7 km round-trip from the gate.  In 3,5 kilometers you gain around 700 meters in elevation, with each step bringing a completely different vantage point of the surrounding Cordilleras Negra and Blanca.

Churup Trail Description

From the trailhead you will ascend a sharp incline for about an hour. Every 20 meters or so there are wooden canopies where you can rest and escape from the sun. After an hour the trail enters a narrow valley where you will come upon a set of boulders with a bolted cable. Using the cables for support you can aid climb up the slick, rocky incline. It’s a little spicy, but safe and intuitive if you focus on planting your feet in the appropriate spots.

From Churup Lake you can continue following the trail to a look-out point (mirador) or continue to climb to a second lake known as Churupita. The hike can be done as a loop to avoid having to descend the boulders you climbed up. From the mirador, follow the trail to the left and descend, taking care of the apple-sized rocks underfoot. This descent is steep but easier for many who do not want to return via the cable and climb Allow 4-5 hours out and back and an additional 1.5 hours if including Churupita, the small lake above.

Laguna-Churup-The-Lazy-Dog-Inn
Laguna Churup

Arrival from The Lazy Dog Inn

The Churup trailhead is located 8km one way from the lodge via a high mountain road which can be accessed from the town of Ullpa or above Cachipampa. It’s best to get vehicle support, but distance runners may prefer to run from the lodge to the trailhead.  From the lodge by foot, outside of the front gates, take the double track animal trail to the right and follow it until you arrive to the main country road. At the road turn right and follow the road, staying to the right at the fork which is labeled “Cojup”. Continue on the road where you will reach another intersection with a set of signs, follow the road to the left and continue on until you arrive to a parking area and obvious trail head.

By vehicle, follow the driveway to the road that took you through the town of Marian and Cachipampa. Upon arriving to the water tank take a right, where you will hit another dirt road that has a white post that is marked KM 12 and a Lazy Dog Inn sign. Here take a right. Follow the road through the fork, taking the right split marked “Cojup” past the Cojup trail head where you will arrive to another country road intersection. At this intersection take a left and follow the road through the farming community of Pitec. Around 2 km’s after the last intersection you will arrive to a large parking lot and obvious trailhead.

Arrival from Huaraz

The trailhead is located 21 km’s outside of Huaraz through the area of Nueva Florida, continuing through the small town of Unchus and passing various small farming communities. Continue following the road, until you reach an intersection where you will stay to the right passing the farming community of Pitec. Continuing down the road you will arrive to a large parking lot and the trail head. Plan for around 55 minutes of travel time by vehicle.

  • Quebrada Quilcayhuanca

Offering not only a great day hike option, but an overnight option in the Cordillera Blanca, Quebrada Quilcayhuanca is a deep, granite, valley laced with waterfalls, a small river, and views of some seriously tall peaks averaging over 6,000 meters. The trail heard starts at around 3,800 meters in elevation. On a clear day views of Tullparaju and Chinchey are visible in the distance and along the way you can see pre-Incan tombs, pictographs, terracing and waterfalls.

Quilcayhuanca Trail Description

From the start of the trailhead if you head to the large rocks located on the right side of the stream you will find your first set of pictographs. About 2-2.5 hours you will reach a small archeological site “Tambo “resting area/tombs originating from the pre-Incan times when people from the Conchucos Valley made the long trek to the Callejon de Huaylas.

About 8km into the hike the valley forks, you can either stay to the left to hike to the two high mountain lakes or go to the right towards the Cayesh Valley (recommended day hike option). From the Cayesh Valley you will see the river rushing down into the valley and views of Cayesh and Maparaju peaks. Taking the left you will continue climbing to Laguna Tullparaju located 4,250 meters where icebergs float in the lake below the peak which has the same name. Continue on for another hour or so and you will reach Laguna Cuchillacocha located at a stout 4,600 meters.

Laguna Tullpacocha is located about 13KM from the trailhead entrance, Laguna Cuchillacocha is located about 17km from the trailhead entrance and is best done over two days. For people interested in just a day trek it’s recommended to hike to the fork or the Cayesh Valley and back for a round-trip hike of 16km.

Note: This is the start of the two-day loop trek over Huapi Pass that peaks out an impressive 5100 Meters and down a steep, haphazardly marked route to the Cojup Valley, a great overnight trekking option.

Nevada Tallaraju as seen from the Quilcyhuanca Valley

Arrival from The Lazy Dog Inn

From the Lazy Dog Inn the trailhead is located approximately 12 kilometers and takes around 30 minutes to arrive from our main gates. From our driveway turn right arriving to a country road with a white post that is marked KM 12, and a Lazy Dog Inn sign. Here take a left, staying to the right at the fork 3km down the road, towards the Cojup trailhead. About 2 kilometers past the Cojup trailhead you will arrive to another intersection, turn left where you will pass through the farming community of Pitec. Look for the large Churup trailhead parking lot and continue down the road another 4 kilometers where you will arrive to a parking area, stone gate, and a small care-takers hut. Here you will need to pay the gatekeeper before beginning the trail.

 

Arrival from Huaraz

The trailhead is located approximately 25 km’s outside of Huaraz and will take around 1 hour to arrive from Huaraz. Head to the small community of Unchus ascending through the area of Nueva Florida, and passing several small farming communities. Continue following the road, until you reach an intersection where you will stay to the right passing the farming community of Pitec. Continuing down the road you will arrive to a large parking lot and the trail head for Churup, continue down the road for another 4 kilometers. The road dead-ends to a small parking area with a stone gate and small care-takers hut.

 

  • Quebrada Shallap

One of the best day hikes in the Cordillera Blanca for an easy to moderate and this hike, with a gentle slope, can take around 7-8 hours depending on your starting point. It can be accessed from the small town of Jancu (45 – 55 minute car ride from the Lazy Dog Inn ) or a slightly longer hike from the parking area at Pitec located in front the Churup trail head.

Shallap Trail Description

From the parking area of Churup, head to the right and continue hiking the trail for 25 minutes. From Jancu it is around 16 km round-trip and from Pitec around 20 km round-trip. Transportation is recommended for drop off and pick up.

Once in the Quebrada, a walk across the valley from Pitec or the town of Jancu, you will reach the Huascaran Park Sign and entrance gates at 4000 m, approx. 2 hours from Pitec. The path ascends the picturesque valley through meadows and seasonal waterfalls until the moraine. Pass the old Ingemmet Hut and reach the lake at 4300 about 3 hours from the entrance. The lake lies below the snowcapped Nevado San Juan.

Arrival from The Lazy Dog Inn

The most direct route to the Quebrada Shallap is from the driveway turn right and head up to the main country road. At the main country road turn right again, driving past a fork and staying to the right marked “Cojup”. Continuing on past the Cojup trailhead you will arrive to another intersection where you will turn left, passing the farming community of Pitec towards the Laguna Churup. Upon reaching the large parking lot for Laguna Churup, park here, and head the opposite direction of the Laguna Churup trailhead, east, towards the Quebrada Shallap trailhead, which you should arrive after approximately 30 minutes of hiking.

Arrival from Huaraz

From Huaraz you will want to head towards the town of Jancu, which is North East from the city of Huaraz. To access the town, head North East and the street Diego Ferrer and follow it all the way to the town of Jancu, which takes approximately 45 minutes to arrive. From the town you can access the trail head for Quebrada Shallap.

 

  • Laguna Rajucolta

This is a good day hike for acclimatizing as the lake sits about 250 meters lower than most lakes in the Cordillera Blancas and is a gentle incline from the trailhead gates to the lake. Whilst the hike requires more driving than the hikes right outside our lodge, the reward is a crystal blue lake cradled under the towering Nevado Huantsan which boasts an impressive height of 6,395 meters.

Rajucolta Trail Description

The entrance is via the small town of Macashca and follows an 18 km bumpy dirty road. (about 2 – 2.5 hours from the Lazy Dog Inn). From the start of the trail it is about 6 km to the deep blue colored Laguna Tambillo, 4250 m, at the foot of the snowcapped Huantsan Glacier. Transportation is required and the hike  is 12-13 km round-trip. The trail is wide and clearly marked all the way from the main gates to the lake.

Nevada Huantsan as seen from the Rajucolta hike

 

Arrival from The Lazy Dog Inn

From the Lazy Dog Inn, the quickest route is returning to Huaraz through Marian and heading to the town of Macashca, located South East from the own of Huaraz. Upon arriving to Huaraz get on Confraternidad Oeste and head South until you arrive to a large wooden sign that says “Macashca”, take the corresponding dirt road up. Upon arriving to town follow the dirt road that parallels the river, crossing the bridge to the right upon reaching a fork in the road right after the town, until you reach the National Park entry gates. Here you can park you and start your trek, which is about a 12 km hike out and back to the lake.

 

Arrival from Huaraz

Head South on Confraternidad Oeste and head South until your reach route “3N” which you will take all the way to Macashca, which can be easy to find with the help of a GPS. Upon arriving to town follow the dirt road that parallels the river until you reach the National Park entry gates. Here you can park you and start your trek, which is about a 12 km hike out and back to the lake.

 

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